Genotypic and phenotypic characterization of enteroaggregative Escherichia coli (EAEC) isolates from diarrheic children: An unresolved diagnostic paradigm exists

Document Type : Original Article


1 Department of Biology, Faculty of Science, Shahid Chamran University of Ahvaz, Ahvaz, Iran

2 Adolfo Lutz Institute, Centere of Bacteriology, National Reference Laboratory for E. coli enteric infections and HUS. São Paulo, Brazil

3 Department of Pathobiology, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, Mashhad, Iran


Objective(s): The enteroaggregative Escherichia coli (EAEC) has been one of the most intriguing emerging bacterial pathogens in children that occur both in developing countries and the industrial world. Although various phenotypic and genotypic based protocols have been suggested for diagnosis of EAEC, they are not conclusive or practical to be used in most clinical laboratories.
Materials and Methods: In this study, we analyzed and compared 36 typical EAEC strains (aggR-positive) by various genotypic and phenotypic methods.
Results: Briefly, pCVD432 was detected in all of isolates along with aggR, then it was followed by other virulence genes including app, astA, aggA, and pet genes in 32 (88.8%), 21 (58.3%), 9 (25%), and 2 (5.5%) isolates, respectively. Biofilm was formed by 34 (94.4%) isolates, while only 26 (72.2%) isolates showed an aggregative adherence pattern to HEp-2 cells.
Conclusion: The genetic and phenotypic features of EAEC were highly inconsistent, which may have considerable diagnostic implications. The variations in the virulence genes, phenotypic characteristics, and genetic profiles among the EAEC isolates again emphasized the genetic heterogeneity of this emerging pathotype. Biofilm formation may be an important phenotypic virulence property of this pathotype, especially in strains with the aggR-pCVD432-aap-astA profile.


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